NaBloPoMo 2016, Letters to Patients, Day 17
To Patients Who Share Your Stories:
You inspire me.
For the past week or so Donna Cameron and I have practiced the 3 Question Journal, since I wrote about it 9 days ago. Every day we look for one thing each that surprised us, touched us, and inspired us.
I find that my inspiration comes almost always from my interactions with others, and often from patients. It’s the stories. I bring my laptop into the exam room, and I notice when I stop typing and sit forward, usually chin in hand, to listen to what you have to say. Usually you’re telling me about a problem you solved at work, or your kids, or that crazy illness or injury you overcame. You look and sound proud, confident. You sit up straighter.
The stories from past and present help me tie together your symptoms. Maybe you get headaches more lately. But you’re not stressed, you say. Then looking back, well, your mom has been losing her memory fast the past year. And your co-worker was diagnosed with cancer. You found mold in your basement and it’s going to cost you both time and money to abate it. Oh, and your only son will graduate from high school next year. Hmmmm, are you sure you only have headaches and not other symptoms, too? Yeah, you say, you’re actually doing pretty well, all things considered!
I never know what will come up when I see you. If our relationship is established and positive, I will always look forward to your next visit. I can’t wait to catch up. I want to hear what you’ve noticed about your health habits, their consequences and interactions, since we last met. The little things make me giddy—like the newfound flexibility after a couple of yoga classes, or the discovery of a new favorite health food—who knew quinoa was so delicious as a hot breakfast ?
Maybe the best part comes when I can really relate to a story you tell. Wow, I think, we live parallel lives! We struggle with the same barriers to healthy habits. We share the common experience of perfectionism and self-doubt. We both seek acknowledgement that we’re doing our best, and forgiveness for our mistakes. We are all simply human.
Please keep sharing your stories. You inspire me more than you know.